Saturday at Glastonbury 2005 had a lot to live up to given the number of stellar performances the previous day. The conditions remained overcast and there were now certain parts of the site that were inaccessible due to the alarming volume of mud (which meant the queues for wellies were allegedly up to two hours), but thankfully the bill was once again mouth watering.
Up bright and early in the John Peel Tent were this year’s winners of the now legendary Glastonbury battle of the bands competition, The Mad Staring Eyes. They played a pleasant but largely uninspiring set, full of songs which recalled the guitar solos and falsetto vocals that we’ve come to associate with The Darkness – needless to say, the novelty wore off quickly.
Next on were Reading’s Morning Runner, who have been creating a bit of a buzz lately with their quirky take on the standard soft rock template. They’re signed to Parlophone and are currently supporting Coldplay, but their sound is darker, icier and more edgy than that of Chris Martin and co’s, something which they confirmed with a confident and assured performance – expect them to be a household name before too long.
There was little need to leave the John Peel this afternoon, particularly as the next three bands to play on the bill are three of the most exciting British bands to emerge all year. First up were The Rakes, who entertained us to a set full of their jittery guitar sounds and front man Alan Donohue’s untutored dance moves. Their energetic, two and a half minute tales of everyday life all sounded fantastic, and new single Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep) had the feel of a true festival anthem.
The Departure introduced themselves to Worthy Farm for the first time with their gargantuan opening number Be My Enemy, before making their way through a set that showcased the highlights of their recent debut album Dirty Words. As usual with this band, they looked the part and sounded sharp – their incisive guitar riffs were as potent as ever, not least on recent single All Mapped Out, which saw a reasonably full tent get involved with some appreciative head nodding.
Due to their cancelled slot on the Pyramid Stage yesterday morning, there was all the more reason for The Subways to make the most of their time today – bursting straight into the heavy, Nirvana style riffing of Holiday as soon as they arrived, the next 40 minutes turned out to be something of a revelation. We knew that this group had talent, but today they pulled something special out of the bag. The aggression in Billy Lunn’s performance was impressive to say the least, and as the crowd sang Oh Yeah back to him, you got the feeling that this is going to be something of a Glastonbury routine in years to come. They ended with their current single Rock & Roll Queen, and given the rapturous applause of the audience, I’m convinced they would happily have seen this band play all night.
Interpol were one of the bigger and more exciting names on the festival bill, so it was no surprise that their dusk slot saw most of the muddy surroundings of the Other Stage filled up with keen onlookers. So it was slightly unfortunate that tonight’s gig turned out to be one that was filled with a sense of missed opportunity. It’s not to say that they weren’t good – only a fool would fault a band like Interpol technically. There was just a slight lack of enthusiasm (Paul Banks in particular looked a very tired man) and the speaker system was almost silent at times. However, all was not lost – a typically brilliant version of PDA closed proceedings, which effectively upheld their status as one of the best bands around. Let’s hope they get another chance with a big slot in 2007.
Kasabian followed directly after, and played solid if unspectacular renditions of their popularised material – songs like Processed Beats and LSF got the flags flying and the women on shoulders, but you couldn’t help being a bit put off by lead singer Tom Meighan’s inane inter song banter, in which he championed his band to an unpalatable extent. So it was with a certain relief that there was a mass exodus before the end of the set, as people descended upon the Pyramid Stage for the most eagerly anticipated performance of them all, the return of Coldplay to Glastonbury.
Married to an A-list Hollywood actress, having a number one album in 22 countries and serenading a mass of people as far as the eye can see, Chris Martin must feel like God these days. Certainly, it could be said that his band’s performance tonight verged on messianic – almost every song had the 100,000 strong crowd singing along in jubilation, not to mention his every word being met with a wave of applause or laughter. This was hardly any surprise, however – by the time they encored with a cover of Kylie‘s Can’t Get You Out Of My Head and Fix You, (the standout track of X&Y) complete with fireworks, they had long since confirmed their position as the biggest band in the world.